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this morning my question as tina fey and amy poehler take the stage tonight, are we in a golden era for women in comedy? plus, when it comes to education is no boys allowed the next best thing for girls? and the mother who lost her son to gun violence twice. first, want to know what joe biden plans to do about the guns? me, too. i'm going to ask his son. good morning. i'm m i i'm melissa harris-perry.
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biden's report to the president comes a week after meetings in search of some common ground among all the sides of the gun control debate. the usual suspects, firearm retailers including a reluctant walmart, gun violence survivors who shared their firsthand experiences, gun control proponents and gun control opponents pushing for expanded rights. the de facto leader of that opposition, the national rifle association issued a statement after their sit-down with the vice president. their solution? to dig in deeper on the all guns all the time ideology and put armed guards in every american school. the nra promises to marshall their formidable, political and financial resources to fight any new reforms every step of the way. they will do so with the support
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of allies in congress, most notably republicans on the house committee who continue to propose limits on assault weapons. no surprises there. by now, we are familiar with the political players and per am ters with the debate that feels as old as the second amendment itself or at least we think we are. because history tells us a different story. it tells us that all of our uniquely american relationships to guns, who is allowed to have them, who feels threatened by them and how our laws seek to find a balance between the two extremes have never been fixed. in fact, that history reflects a series of ever evolving, conflicting contradictory points that have been characterized not by policy, but panic. panic over perceptions of who is with us and who is against us. this time, it is a panic inspired by the fear a madman
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will walk into a public space and kill indiscriminately. i want to go back a bit. nearly five decades. there was a prominent organization that defended a strict interpretation of the second amendment and the right of individual americans to use guns to protect themselves when the state could or would not. the name of that organization was the black panther party. they may have been the farthest thing from what the founders imagined when they wrote well regulated militia in the second amendment. a militia depending themselves against the tyranny of the state by taking up arms was their mission. it was started by two men in 1966. the panthers took up arms in response to random and indiscriminate violence perpetrated against black people in california by the oakland police in an america catching up to the promise of the civil
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rights legislation. members of the organization received training from experienced instructors and how to maintain and shoot guns. they carried them openly in public in compliance with the police and the laws at the time. go as far as to police the police to patrol them as the police patrolled oakland residents. the response was broad and decisive. a republican state assemblyman proposed a state law that would make it illegal to carry a loaded weapon in any city in california. the law created to disarm the black panthers would affect all gun owners in the state of california. in a dramatic showdown, they responded with their version of nra lobbying on capitol hill. they showed up with shotguns on the state capital building in
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sacramento. they were prevented from entering the chamber, their message was received loud and clear. it was signed into law by someone who seems an improbable advocate for gun control. this guy. no, your eyes are not fooling you. that is republican party demagogue ronald reagan, a supporter of what was at the time one of the strictist gun laws in the nation. the panic over black people with guns mag fied in cities like detroit in the shooting deaths of bobby kennedy revoked a policy response from the government. president lyndon b. johnson signed the gun control act of 1968. >> we have come here to sign the most comprehensive gun control law ever signed in this nation's history. >> as we await tuesday for vice president biden's
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recommendations, the president's respond and the outcry from either or both sides, we are well served to keep in mind in recent history, there's no clear liberal or consensus on gun policy. our freedoms, cherished as they are must be balanced by civic responsibilities. at the table today, dan gross, tracy meres, law professor at yale university. thanks to all of you for being here. >> thank you. >> i want to start with you in part because i tell this story, a story that i think has been lost even though it's recent history. i worry as we enter into the new conversation about guns and the possibility of getting common sense gun legislation that we will miss this has not always
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been a partisan issue and hasn't been id logically marketed. what do we learn from this history? >> history is long standing. it goes back far beyond the black panthers. during the fugitive slave law resistan resistance, frederick douglas resisted slave catchers. we see it moving up through the 1960s. your point about the black panthers is interesting. it's a stage where in my scholarship i have described at the dichotomy. the leadership and grass roots made a distinction. they thought it was a crucial resource for black folks. up to the point of the radical resistance of the black panthers, that dichotomy was
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vividly upheld. the panthers sullied that process. the book i'm working on talks about that phenomena in more detail. what we find up until the 1970s is a clear endorsement by martin luther king and everyone in the movement. >> as you put on, this is a path that goes way back, right? we might be able to say, look, we would be a better and safer country if there's no second amendment. we might be able to say it's not part of our tradition, but it's not where we are. we are in a place where wherever gun control legislation we are going to implement and institute is in this context. talk about civically responsible gun control legislation at the time we talk about the second amendment. >> here is the crazy thing. this is not a partisan political debate in the discourse of america.
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92% of americans support things like background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, felons, abusers, dangerously mentally ill. that has nothing to do with the second amendment right. 74% of nra members support criminal background checks. the only place where this is a heated partisan debate is in the halls of congress and sometimes, in the media when they pit two extreme sides against each other. it's not the conversation the american public wants to have. they don't want a conversation about putting more guns in schools. the gun lobby puts out out there with the hope of dragging it into the uncivil conversation contrary to any solution that would keep guns off our streets and out of the hands of dangerous people. >> the teachers with guns, right, this image of teachers actually standing there being trained with guns scares me --
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like this is exactly the wrong direction for this conversation. >> it scares teachers to death, too. >> right. it feels like it is based on who the good guys and bad guys are. we are responding to newtown, basically. we have to arm teachers because in this case, teachers would have done something different. we can't assume teachers are always the good guys. we don't want to give them pensions but we want to arm them. >> nobody else is responding that way. a few people on the extreme of this, that is not the conversation the american public wants to have. it's not the conversation they want us to have on this show. themt to talk about the things we can do to prevent gun violence and the respect for the second amendment. they can co-exist. >> we should be proactive. if we look at two things, short term fixes, which is the gun, we have long term solutions the potential shooting and victim. we have to do both.
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not just gun legislation on tuesday to look at the recommendati recommendation. how do we do assault weapons bans and close loopholes? how do we look at young people who might be potentially dangerous. we have to look at how do we stop that. from the beginning, not just how do we get rid of guns. >> this is the challenge. it's in response to the kinds of gun violence that is actually not -- in other words, it is the teenagers being shot in the streets of chicago. >> two points on that. one, i like your point, michael, about making it broder. one way is recognize the issue for what it is, public health. when we think of it as public health, we pay attention to the fact there have been 4 million firearm injuries in the last 40 years. they include not only the good
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guys and bad guys, but suicide, accidents and the like. the fact that because of some of the nra activism we haven't been able to do the research to figure out the parameters and scope and details of the problem. i think that's one. it's kind of like, the abortion debate, to bring something else high profile in. there's a problem between characterizing it on pro-choice on one hand and pro-life on the other rather than a concept of reproductive justice. >> in the broader sense. we have a lot more to say. we are going to spend the whole hour on this issue. it is complicated. stay there. the vice president is set to deliver his suggestions on gun policy on tuesday. up next, i'm going to ask his son, delaware attorney general, bo biden for a preview.
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when vice president joe biden presents the president with his recommendations all options will be on the table. not all options will make it to the final legislation. banning assault weapons, limiting high capacity magazines face strong opposition from opponents. the president is fond of saying letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. >> i want to make it clear that we are not going to get caught up in the notion unless we can do everything, we are going to do nothing. it's critically important we act. >> my next guest can give us a closer look at what the action may look like. he's involve of the state level
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of new policies and the son of the vice president who is directly involved to the man crafting them. joining me from delaware is state attorney beau biden. nice to have you mr. biden. >> happy to be on, melissa. >> first in your role as attorney general, you and the governor will be presenting state level plans at the beginning of next week even as the vice president is going to help us see what the federal level plans are beginning on tuesday. what does the gun problem look like from your vantage point? >> well, the gun problem here in the city of wilmington is pronounced. we have many things you talked about in the previous segment, young people are arming themselves with a cell phone, a weapon and committing violence at record levels in the city of wilmington. we are focused on it very much in the state of delaware. obviously, we are concerned
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about school safety. tomorrow the governor and i will be putting forth a whole package of laws that will hopefully protect kids in schools and on the streets in wilmington. one of the pieces i can preview what i'm going to do, not what the vice president is going to do. the governor and i are going to resubmit a law he put forward 18 months ago that would require universal background checks. i loved your lead in with the history of the 1968 gun control act and the work the brady's who are now citizens of the background check. instant criminal background check noun as the nix was fought tooth and nail by the nra. it's over the course of the last 15 years stopped 2 million people prohibited on the gun control act from getting weapons. half of whom are convicted
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felons who have gone to purchase weapons. what we have heard, the leader from brady knows this. no one is dumb enough to go to purchase legally a weapon. the facts have born something else out. the brady law helps stop it and make this is safer place to live. >> the background check allows us to trace how many more gun sales occur month-to-month. one of the more shocking statistics we have seen since the holiday tragedy at newtown is as "the new york times" reports, this enormous increase in the number of people seeking guns. "the new york times" reported december was a record for criminal background checks before many gun purchases, a strong indication of a big increase in sales. we are looking at 2.2 million
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background checks performed in the month of december. it was an increase over that period in 2011. what does that tell you, attorney general, about how people are reacting both to newtown and the attempts to make some common sense legislation around guns? >> it makes it difficult. what we have seen in my office as a chief law enforcement officer, i'm in charge of doing background checks for people applying for concealed weapons permit. we have seen a huge up tick in that. well in front of what happened in connecticut. i see a lot of misinformation out there. gun sales went through the roof well before the tragedy in connecticut upon the election of president barack obama in november of last year. so, there's a lot of misinformation. the same thing happened when the president and vice president were elected in 2008 and 2009. gun sales went through the roof. there's a lot of misinformation outs there about what the
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administration wanlts to do, what others want to do and we need everybody to take a deep breath here and come up with a reasonable, sensible approach about how to honor the second amendment and keep our schools and the streets of our cities safe. >> let me ask you one question. very specifically about your father who is now leading this charge. what insights do you have about him either as a man or legislature to help us understand how he is approaching the task of bringing forward a gun proposal? >> well, i can tell you, he's going to do what he and the president have done on every piece of legislation they have approached the last four years. one, bring all the stake holders together and hear them out from the nra to sportsmen to victims to survivors. my father was on the phone last night with folks, survivors in connecticut and the parents of the children who were, you know, killed in that awful tragedy. so he's going to listen to
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everyone. then come up with a common sense approach about how to make sure that something like what happened in connecticut doesn't happen again and bring a sense of safety to city streets around the communities. that's what he'll do. he has a, you know, he gets a lot of credit for having relationships with congress over the last four years. really, what his talent is is having an encyclopedia knowledge and what the stake holders position is and finding common ground. it's what he did at the turn of the year with the negotiations on the fiscal cliff. i think it's what the president asked him to do as it relates to bringing some legislation in front of congress to make us a safer country from gun violence. it's what he's in the midst of doing as we speak. >> thank you beau biden. i appreciate your insights on this. >> thank you. up next, jumping in front of
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washington does the slow work of crafting gun policy around gun violence, people on the ground in america's cities are confronted with the real world consequences every day. activists in cities that arndt hard hit are taking aix on their own. joining me is the director of cease-fire illinois an organization that stops the violence before it starts. nice to see you. >> yeah, glad to be here with you, melissa. >> i watch a bit of the documentary on your organization. it is pretty intense work. tell the viewers a bit about what your organization does. >> well, cease-fire is a public health model that is aimed towards changing behaviors associated with violence.
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we hire violence interrupters and people who work in the field of behavioral change. it's a learned behavior and handed down from generation to generation. we teach that they can unlearn it. >> let's be clear. when you say trying to teach young people, this is not like your friendly saturday afternoons with 4-year-olds to talk about guns are bad. you are standing on -- standing between people who are sometimes at this moment potentially about president obama in t to be in a gunfight. >> the young men and women throughout america, we have stood in the middle of 45 conflicts in chicago. in one, a guy shot a grandmother's window, then burned her car. he said he wasn't going to listen to anybody.
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as an end result, the grandmother's grandsons are still alive today. that's something we caught on the front end. >> i want to bring tracy into this. i know you know one another from some of the work for many years in chicago. >> one thing that is important about what cease-fire does is addresses the violence of young men, african-american men in particular. we know gun violence is the number one source, reason for death among that age group. we also know looking at chicago in particular that the way people are connected in the communities is important. if you look at the high crime community where tio and his colleagues are working, homicide rate is high. east and west garfield park is known for a high homicide rate. take everybody who has been killed in the last five years.
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look at who they have been arrested with and look at who they are arrested with. my colleague andrew and i call it two degrees of kevin bacon. you look at that network of people and the homicide rate among that group is an astonishing 300 per 100,000. take that group out of the community and the homicide rate of everybody else is less than three per 100,000. >> to be part of that network makes a difference to a gun violence problem than the moment of whether you have access to the weapon. >> these programs are so crucial to this conversation. cease-fire chicago, i love my life in southeast jamaica queens. these folks, they are heroes. they are going in the middle of a battle and trying to stop violence every single day. if any politician or any funder is watching this program on tuesday afternoon when the vice
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president makes his recommendation, make sure we fund these programs. put adequate funding into these programs or else forget chicago, forget queens and camden. we need to fund these programs. these guys are making nothing, begging for money. they work. we see them work. >> we have them begging for money but the nra has loads of money, right? we know that enormous consequences of that money and the lobbying of that money in terms of how it impacts the work these folks are trying to do on the ground. >> clearly, there's not enough money to go around. that money needs to go toward programs like cease-fire. you talked about i love my life. there's another program called speak up. that encourages young people to come forward and report threats of weapons that can prevent a lot of violence. the heartening thing is that these conversations are part of the comprehensive look of this
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issue that the president and vice president through this task force are consciously taking. it's important to keep the conversations together and not unlink them. both are critical elements. there are things we can do to keep guns off the streets. brownsville, jamaica of chicago. there are also things we can do with the vice president and president. it's not just a conversation around newtown to being one about deaths that occur much more frequently in the kind of neighbors we are talking about. >> i'm going to let you in in a moment. i want to grab nicholas here. >> we talk the nra on one side and everyone else on the other. you mentioned the grandmother in chicago, it also brought to mind otis mcdonald who was the lead
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plaintiff in mcdonald versus chicago. there are also in communities like this, what i call the community of innocence. people who are elderly, the grandmother you mentioned here. the interest in self-defense they have is a significant one. i think it actually does a disservice to the debate to suggest it's only the nra with this interest in self-defense within the window where the state really cannot respond. it's a private crisis. >> this is incredibly important to you. it feels like part of what goes on is a sense of if communities are disarmed, which in one way makes perfect sense, take the beef and turn it into fistfights instead of gunfights and everybody lives with it. given there are so many weapons, there are a lot of good guys. the grandmas who say look, i want my guns. they are part of protection against the bad guys and
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importantly in a city like chicago, a history where the police themselves, the state doesn't necessarily make you feel safe. there's been inadequate policing in those communities or the wrong kind of policing in those communities. >> well, you know, my thing is you have to keep working on changing behavior. you cannot change the circumstances all the time throughout the united states. i had a chance to sit down with prime minister david camden. you have 16,000 knife crowns in one year. it's about the thick. a lot of people have been raised in this violent culture. they think it's okay. homicides should be treated as the greatest epidemic. the greatest challenge for the 21st century as an epidemic. violence spreads like an epidemic disease. if i'm mad at your friends, i'm mad at you. in rwanda, 900,000 people killed because of this put in people's
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minds. look what happened in nazi germany. violence has been around for a long time. we need to treat it as a public health issue. we can change the minds across america and across the world so we can all become healthier people. >> i'm going to let you in. we have someone else we are going to bring in. thank you tio for being here on the show today but thank you for your work. chicago is a city i love deeply. the model you are creating with cease-fire is one that can continue to be used in other cities. i think the call we just heard from michael on the show that yours is the kind of organization and other models to think about rooting out the violence problem from the beginning. there are grandmothers, there are children and communities at stake. thank you for that work. thank you to nicholas johnson for reminding us this is complicated and keeping our eye on that. up next, we are going to follow
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on thursday, after meeting with the white house gun violence task force, the nra slammed vice president biden calling the meeting part of an agenda to attack the second amendment. the nra may have walked away angrily their dominance guarantees their voice will continue to be heard as this develops. it brings me to 100,000. the number of new members to join nra since the massacre in newtown. a poll conducted last year by a republican pollster found 87% of nra members believe support for the second amendment includes keeping the guns out of the hands of criminals. it may be because the organization isn't simply an
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affinity group, but rather the public face of the firearm industry. an industry that stands to lose much more than membership dues if guns become a bit harder to distribute. the gun lobby isn't shooting with blanks. in 2011 alone, firearms industry was a $32 billion industry with gun ownership at a 20 year high. gun and ammunition sales raked in $4 billion last year. gun makers are trying to keep it that way. since 2005, corporate donors to the nra, the vast majority gun manufacturers not owners contributed $53 million to the organization. during the 2012 election, the nra had $3 million cash to play with because politics matter to the gun maker. sometimes one politician can make millions for the firearm manufacturers. since the election of president
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obama, despite a bear market, the firearms industry has seen stock prices jump by the hundreds. for one gun maker in particular, smith and wes son, it's went up. black friday 154,873 background checks made for potential gun owners. december was a record breaking month with 2.2 million background checks for those wanting firearms. that's a staggering 58.6% increase over the year before. this is not a new phenomena. gun sales spiked higher in the wake of the aurora, colorado movie shooting massacre. the same was true after columbine and the shooting in arizona that left gabby giffords wounded. newtown has kept pace, especially with ammunition to fill high capacity magazines
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nothing. are you stealing our daughter's school supplies and taking them to work? no, i was just looking for my stapler and my... this thing. i save money by using fedex ground and buy my own supplies. that's a great idea. i'm going to go... we got clients in today. [ male announcer ] save on ground shipping at fedex office. there's a difference between the political and philosophical violence of guns in society and the oh too real effects of it. jackie is joining us. she lost both of her sons to gun violence before their 30th birthdays. in 1982, her 17-year-old son was shot dead in new york by two men who didn't like the way he was looking at them.
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then, almost two decades later, her second son was shot and killed by a 13-year-old involved in a robbery in a street outside his apartment in baltimore. in response to her pain, she co-founded mothers save. in addition to making sure families who share her experience receive grief counseling and financial help, she's at the forefront to stop gun violence. >> let me say thank you. it's an honor. thank you for having the vision to bring on a mother who has endured the pain that is all centered around this gun violence. we have been out here a long time trying to get someone to pay attention to help us stop this violence, to help us understand why are they killing each other. why are we having this organization? we started off with five
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mothers, melissa. we walked in an office and said help, help. there's too many guns on the streets. who is giving our kids the guns. that is the question. we know where they are coming from. we know. who is putting the guns in our kids hands? that is the question that was called when we stood on city hall. now we have 50 plus mothers and fathers. we are glad to say they have a home and someplace to come. >> let me go to this point. i think so many folks would say when we look at the newtown shooting, as horrible as it is, it is horrible, the loss of those children might at least begin to stem violence, if we can make real legislative accomplishments. then i say you lost your boys, your first son in 1982. then decades later, all that time passed and the rules were not changed in a way that made your second son any safer. how do we make sure there aren't 50 more?
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i'm happy you are an organization group but sad. i would like to know there were no more mothers who lost their sons and daughters. >> i'm sad it grew, but happy it grew. how do we stop it? first of all, it's a lot of attention paid to the gun violence now because of the newtown shooting. whatever it takes. we have been out there a long time saying help, help. how we stop it? i am proud that the president and vice president have this task force and it's really looking at this. the world is looking at how to stop this violence. so, we have to come to the table, the communities -- let me talk about the communities. what the communities can do. we have to support the president. we have to support the vice president. we have to talk to our congress. we have to talk to our legislatures and say enough is enough. now we lost our babies. we been losing our kids forever.
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now we have lost our babies. enough is enough. step up! take charge! take charge of our children. stop letting them make money off our children's lives. >> right. that feels like -- that feels like that is what it is. people are simply making money off the death of our children. >> gun manufacturers. one of the things we can do, simply when you said where are the guns coming from, it's up to the bureau to figure out where the guns are coming from. for example, the atf doesn't have funding or personnel. inventory checks to figure out where the stolen guns are coming from. the atf doesn't have the power to computerize gun sales. if you want to figure out where the guns are coming from, what they have to go through paper. that is a piece of legislation that has prevented the atf -- >> say it again.
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the atf has not had a director for six years? >> for six years. they cannot get one confirmed through. they have not had an atf director. there's also not a juvenile justice director, either. >> how are we beginning to have a conversation about this if we don't have those positions filled? >> the gun lobby went out of their way to collect data by the cdc and others. it's an important conversation we can have to get more data and research to find out how gun laws work. there are certain laws that would work tomorrow to keep guns off the streets. right now, 40% of all gun sales in our country don't have a background check. that means -- that's not just -- sometimes it's trivialized calling it the gun show loophole. it's on the internet. you can go on the internet right now, convicted felon, sex
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abuser, terrorist. >> 40% is not a loophole. it's standard operating procedure. we are going to take a quick break. more solutions as soon as we come back. this is so so soft. hey hun, remember you only need a few sheets. hmph! [ female announcer ] charmin ultra soft is so soft you'll have to remind your family they can use less. ♪ charmin ultra soft is made with extra cushions that are soft and more absorbent. plus you can use four times less. hope you saved some for me. mhmm! you and the kids. we all go. why not enjoy the go with charmin ultra soft.
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gang violence accounts for 800 murders annually. a large percent are connected with drug trafficking. when we turn the tide of gun violence maybe ending the war on drugs is the best gun measure we can enact. is that possible. it's driven by a public health problem? >> absolutely. we need to end the war on drugs immediately. >> we have lost. >> president clinton said it's a failure. the president is taking steps to do so. the mandatory minimum sentencing has to be gotten rid of. we take our kids and manufacture
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them to become prisoners. we are to look at it in a concrete way. there's a piece of legislation by bobby scott out of virginia called the youth promise act with bipartisan approach. it looks at gang violence intervention to programs like here. it looks at programs and says can we take a community and rebuild a community? >> i just want to point out, though, it's very important to have conversations like this. this is a complex issue with complex solutions. we should have those conversations policy wise and culturally. we shouldn't have them at the expense of what we can do tomorrow to keep guns off the streets and out of the hands of dangerous people. there's a lot of gravity around the mental health. that's the pull it apart to talk about access, mental health services an important conversation. let's talk about what we can do.
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there's certain mental illnesses where people are predisposed to harming themselves and others. through education. that public health approach. you can educate parents and clinicia clinicians. maybe it's not a great idea if he's predisposed to harming somebody to have an arsenal in your house. always make sure, especially right now they are grounded in access to guns. >> multiple conversations happening at the same time. >> absolutely. we need to look more as you did before. let's talk about bullying. a lot of mental illness and angriness come from bullying. these kids are bullied. sometimes when you are pull bullied, the child got a gun and shot the kid. that plays a big part. so, what do we say to the
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educators? what do we say to the parents? what do we say to the children? speak up. if you are scared, tell someone. tell your family member. tell your counselor. it is a speak up number as dan mentioned earlier. we have to really start paying attention and education. do more education, put funding in educating these kids on bullying. we have a peer-to-peer program. >> thank you for reminding us of that, dan. the layers lay on top of each other. there's the question of mental illness and the question of our social illnesses. none of that can be divorced from the policies that we can enact today and reduce the access to guns from everything from the internet to gun shows and all those things. this is complex. we spent an hour in it. i appreciate you all for being
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here. a couple of you are sticking around. thank you for bringing your passion and experience to us. this is a tough one. >> we understand the fight. we going to stay with the mothers. yesterday, a kid got shot across from harlem of the save. legislatures listen to what the president proposed. i hope they make their best argument. >> we are changing gears dramatically next. we are going to try to lighten it up. we are going have a funny moment about amy poehler and tina fey as they take center stage. we are going to talk women in hollywood. there's more nerdland at the top of the hour. ♪ [ male announcer ] this is bob, a regular guy with an irregular heartbeat. the usual, bob? not today. [ male announcer ] bob has afib: atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem, a condition that puts him at greater risk for a stroke.
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red jars are all the same right? wrong! you need three uses of a $15 cream to equal the moisturizing power of one use of regenerist microsculpting cream. seems not all red jars are created equal. olay regenerist. welcome back. i'm melissa harris perry.
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nbc funny ladies, tina fey and amy poehler are hosting the awards. to be fair, there have been other women hosts. but poler and fey are the first duo to do it together. they were the first all female anchor team for "saturday night live's" weekend update. in 2013, it feels odd that established funny women like poler and fey are still creating firsts. all this in a week when the buzz is breaking for their golden globes moment but for jimmy kimmel's move to the sweet spot on abc. right, because we don't have enough funny men in late night or government.
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jimmy kimmel's move puts him against jay leno. there's still fallon, o'brien. without them, we do. i can't forget, there are two funny ladies hosting late night. chelsea handler and kelly griffith. come on. ladies are as funny. tina and amy will prove it tonight. the problem is they have to keep proving it all the time. at the table, julian, president of benefitette college for women. michael, editor and chief of, our guy at the table and funny lady extroud nar judy gold, writer, comedian and can be seen saturday january 19th at the landmark on main street in washington. so lovely to have you here. judy, i have to start with you
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as a comedian and a lady. >> i wouldn't say i'm a lady. >> yeah, right. not on seven second delay here. try to remember that. look, why are women still fighting for space in the land of funny? >> to me, it's mind boggling. if you think about it, women are fighting for space in every profession except nursing or teaching. we haven't had a woman president, that is beyond ridiculous. when you think of women in comedy and the articles written about women in comedy, women aren't funny. people aren't funny. it has nothing to do with your gender. humor is such a suggestive thing. you like pizza that is spicy or you don't. you like sarcasm or you don't. it's a sense. it is a sense of humor. your sensibility might not match someone els. it has nothing to do with whether you are male or female. >> what we have developed as our
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sense of what makes something funny is our cultural development came to think of as the kind of things men do or say rather than the things women do or say. >> our culture is so generalized. you have disparity. if you look at congress, 20% of it is woman. if you go to developing countries you ever a ministry of women, you may have a law that says half or a third of the people elected to office have to be women. you have genderized culture. women aren't that funny. in fact, the women i think are hilarious, if they do household jokes, the guys don't get them. if they do sexual jokes they are -- don't do any below the belt, how can i put this? >> it really is about what women are supposed to act like. when i look at my mother, she
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says why do you have to talk, you're so loud. they were taught to be feminine you have to be passive. you have to be docile. >> pretty. >> if you are not like that, you are not feminine. that is absolutely the problem where women are afraid to speak up. afraid to be opinionuated. >> the other piece of it for me and probably you as well looking at race, gender and culture, the ways african-american women are more sidelined. the jokes we can tell have to do with weight. >> mammy is so funny. she'll show up over and over again. when you see the black woman joke. >> the lotto. you have all these black men, some of them have had late night. some of them are this side of obscene. i have a nephew who is a comedian and i have to go to
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church afterward. >> on a tuesday. >> it is amazing how we have allowed, women have allowed, because we watch these men. if they didn't have ratings, of course, i don't think any of those guys are that funny. >> we have a little bit of data. i know sometimes people say you are just making it up. it's not that bad. i want to show data. there's a great new study showing the gender and balances alive and well in media. we have one table showing the indicators that women are seen and not heard. when we look at girls, all these forms of media, there's a lot of numbers. look at the top left. just the percentage of female characters in family films. these are in family films. the percent of characters is up over 30%. when you start asking about the likelihood of speaking rolls,
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there's even in children's stories, not even 50% in terms of percentages in female characters in prime time, children's stories and family films. you are in the industry. how do we breakthrough those barriers? >> i think the best way to breakthrough the barriers is celebrate and honor the achievements of those who do breakthrough. when a woman breaks and shatters the glass ceiling, we need to celebrate that as you pointed out this week. if jimmy kimmel was the lead story, but yet the duo of hosting the globes was secondary to that, that's a problem. young people can only aspire to be what they see. we celebrate certain industries and certain individuals but then we really let certain stories fly below the radar which isn't smart. for a young woman, she believes she can only be historically what she has always been. for us, it's important to put
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certain figures and certain individuals in places where we celebrate their accomplishments and achievements so other people can use that illuminating path as a blueprint for their own individual success. >> i'm wondering if one of the things we should be celebrating is dual women. it's two women. not having to play the girl in a team or -- >> a side kick. >> we are both playing the girl. then the girl can be a multiplicity of different roles. as a token male on the panel here, men may not be happy with me as i'm a proud feminist. my grandmother was a feminist and my mother wauz feminist. what i find is we are seeing advances in front of the south korean. kerry washington in scandal. tina in "30 rock." behind the camera, you can't name five female directors on one hand.
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kathryn hardwick or bigelow. nora ephron just passed. that's really it. >> if you can name them on one hand and one is passed away. >> the beauty is you have debra martin chase who has been very successful. her name is not top of mind. >> who in hollywood has the right to green light a film? many women can green light a film. >> we are going to come back with that topic. it's a celluloid feeling.
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it's true that women have
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made great strides in hollywood. thursday's nomination for best director may signal the road ahead is long. "zero dark thirty" is nominated for best picture. the director, kathryn bigelow, the first to win the best director for "hurt locker" was not nominated. her movie was good enough for a nomination, but she wasn't. >> i think the film is fantastic. she is one of my favorite directors. it's important to talk about the decision makers. when you have a kathryn bigelow at the helm of the film and jessica playing a powerful female character. it changes how we see women on the screen. if you look at will and grace, it laid the groundwork for a shift in this country. women are making decisions and who represents them on screen.
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i believe it can change culture. >> you ask the question. who has the power to green light films? we often hear they are responding to audience pressure. it has to do with what makes the big dollars. there's an organization, women in the audience supporting women artists now. we go and watch women's films. is there something other than organizing to appreciate women that is actively asking the industry to do something different. >> i think one of the things women can do in addition to organizing is funding the films. you have alternative women's organizations. i know we are going to talk later about our sortie. delta sigma beta starred rudy. this was in the '70s. it was a long time ago. they put the money up because we don't see enough black women in
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positive roles, we don't see enough african-americans in positive roles, we will pay for it ourselves. it was a long shot and very challenges. we have more women with wealth where women control wealth than men. look at the sisters who had the dollar said okay, i'm going to put $5 million behind this film starring women. let's see what happens. the other thing is we support these men. very interesting survey in the early '80s that many magazine did that talked about sexism. most women, many of the women talked about in the margins what about my sons. you are looking at affirmative action. what about my sons? what about you? you have to put yourself first. strong women raise strong sons. >> it's the media that plays into this. a woman's film is a chick flick. >> like "zero dark thirty". >> you saying how many female
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characters? that's a woman's movie. every other movie isn't a guy's movie, it's just a guy's movie. you have stand-up comedy. three women on a show. it's ladies night out. three guys on a show, it's a regular show. it's the way that we are publicized and marketed and oh, she's on the edge because she said this. he's not on the edge. >> it's not a small point. even when we do this table, right? this table does not come together week in and week out without thought about who is sitting here. there's no doubt you can have a sunday morning show with an all male panel and take no remark at all. if the show is entirely women from beginning to end, it's ladies night. oh, our ladies panel. >> it's the way -- we do that. we do that. >> it's fueled by financing. one would argue they could always say this is what works.
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so, if they do bridesmaids and it does $300 million and they do a film that really focuses on the family or the female friendship and relationship and under performs, there is the problem. it's a reflection of what actually works in hollywood. >> why is it that one movie doesn't do well so they don't make more movies like that? >> again, hollywood is -- they are not leaders, but followers. it's like reality television. when the first show happened, everyone was afraid of it. largely, society is supported. if you are a sitcom, it's like an anomaly. the fact is consumers are in control of what works in hollywood and hollywood is really going to shape their programming and green lighting of films based on what they think works. a film maker can cast who he
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would like to cast because funding is coming from independent sources. we want this person, we want that person. you have more freedom. you can take more risk. >> i want to be a tiny bit careful about the idea that audiences have a total menu to choose and choose sexist and problematic. one thing is about the presence of women and the other is about what kind of portrayal of women we get whether women are standing there or not. i think we always want to separate an essentialist body. we can have women producing equally problematic silencing. i hate cultural policing. like in the sense that you can be obscene and gro test k. when it's the same image as black women as mammy all the time and produced by black men and woman. it's no longer interesting.
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>> the whole thing about the stereotypes and the things about the film is we haven't broken the cultural barrier of petri ar ki. when you have 50% of the congressmen or 50% of the senate being men, 50% of college presidents are women, you know, when you see women equal, then you begin to see that reflected in the movies. i disagree with you about what they think is going to work. i think it's what they think about life. it's also -- >> i wonder which comes first. i'm going to let you in next, first. i want to talk a little bit about girls. we are talking women, if you are a girl coming up in this industry, what does it look like? one way to talk about it is a 12-year-old's hair. [ lisa ] my name's lisa, and chantix helped me quit. i honestly loved smoking, and i honestly didn't think i would ever quit.
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it's one thing to talk about the short shelf life of veteran hollywood actresses tossed aside when they reach a certain age. it's another to skroout niz a 12-year-old. she's the daughter of will and jada pinkett smith. in november, her mom took to facebook to address letting her daughter make her choices about her appearance. this is a world with women and girls are constantly reminded they don't belong to themselves tharks bodies are not their own or power of self-determination. i made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to know her body, spirit and mind are her domain. >> where was she when i was growing up. >> i know. >> good job, momma. >> when you have a moment like that, attacking the hair choices of a 12-year-old, it made me
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feel sad. >> it's such a violation. here you have a kid who is 12. it's probably the worst age for a girl anyway. she's finding herself. her hormones are developing and you are criticizing her because she cut her hair. she made a decision that she feels pretty or attractive or likes herself this way and the media has to come in, what does this mean? this is not feminine. it's really just so destructive. if a guy cuts his hair, oh, would you he's really butch and manly. yeah, he's manly. what does her song mean? she's depressed. no, she's an intelligent insightful girl. >> taking risk. wallace, the youngest best actress nominee ever, a little african-american girl who played in "beast of the southern wild." she was an incredible actor in
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this firm and does it with her own natural hair. it felt like this point. when you take a risk. when you don't assume what the audience wants to see, great and amazing things might come out of it. >> absolutely. i was thinking of gabby, the young woman -- >> gabby douglas. >> the thing that hurt me most, while a lot of people criticize her, african-american women were the most violent. she didn't press her hairs. if you are running on the bars, if you press it, it's going to go back. jada is right. what young woman has to be able to do is own themselves. you have girls in the fourth and fifth grade telling people they are fat. they are growing. it doesn't matter. you have folks who tell you they are ugly. sometimes they are ugly because their skin is dark. all these stereotypes that seep through again and we haven't dealt with. we have to tell our girls.
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otherwise, they won't be women who own themselves. >> that is dangerous. we are supporting the mind set we are allowing them to not be fearless and unafraid to be different in a sea of the same. in hollywood, when you look at her parents, when you look at will smith who many consider modest as a rapper but monumental success as an actor and someone who used his own identity and dunn it his way. the same with jada pinkett smith. they have been fearless. they are the parents of the children. i celebrate the fact that you should go to hollywood or any industry as we all have done and bring your own unique individualalty. that is what will be celebrated, when you take a risk and ender the risk business, they tend to fly and soar. i think when you hear criticism, it's often other people projecting their insecurity. what bothered me about the gabby
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douglas debackal is we should have been more focused on her talent rather than her look. at times she will evolve and change. it's about the talent. we send the wrong message. >> may i suggest say you take a risk and have a sense of self-ownership and fail in hollywood, it might be the better trade off. >> women fail once. men can fail over and over and over. >> that is not a small point. >> right. >> the other thing with willow smith is hair growth is a human function. >> age related, too. >> so all of this, if she doesn't like it, she can grow it back, she can twist it. >> when you are a black woman, the hair growth may affect it but it's a commodity available in forms and function.
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we can make choices very quickly. this is always a useful conversation. at least we will join in and watch golden globes and have a good time laughing at two funny ladies that deserve to be there. thank you for being our guy on the panel. you are so you. you are fearless. >> with no hair. >> up next, we are going to talk a little bit about the other side of this. how do we get girls to own themselves? we are going to talk about educating our girls. do they learn better than boys? up next. [ man ] visa prepaid opened a new world for me. ♪ i have direct deposit on my visa prepaid. my paycheck is loaded right on my card. automatic. i am not going downtown standing in line to cash it. i know where my money is, because it is in my pocket. i got more time with my daughter, we got places to go.
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senators were once girl scouts. so, could the answer to fostering more women leaders in our country be young girls spending more time exclusively with other young girls? it's a question debated round and round the community with no easy answer. there's the argument young boys are unruly. or that girls have fewer chances to speak in class as aggressive boys seek the attention. the evidence is not convincing. single sex advocates like the national association for single sex public education hosts studies like this one online. researchers conducted a study where fourth grade students were in a single sex or coed classroom. when it came to tests, 30% of boys scored efficient compared to 80% of boys in single sex
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classrooms. for girls, 59% scored efficient. those numbers from the 2005 are not conclusive. they are heavily debated. the u.s. department of education says on the question of single sex education, there's a dearth of studies. support of single sex schooling, a limited number of studies. for now, the debate continues. still with me, julian malveaux, president of the college for women. joining us is nancy lesko at teacher's college at columbia university. the principal of girls lower east middle school in manhattan and tracy meres, professor of law at yale law school. what should we think about the numbers? >> one of the studies you didn't
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cite was from a coalition of women's colleges. what they found is women who go to women's colleges are more likely to step up in terms of leadership positions, have more opportunities to lead or talk. at a women's college, all leadership positions are women. whether it's the head of the naacp, they are being trained to be leaders. one of the things i find that was troubling to me, one of the -- after a random act of violence, one of the women decided all the colleges should get together to stop the violence march. it was her idea. as soon as the guys got to the table, they dominated the conversation. it was their world. it was so bad. i could hear the voices all the way down in my office. who let the kids from amt in here. i walked down.
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i'm like sister, this is your meeting. run your meeting. do not let these guys run your meeting. oftentimes women defer when a man comes in the room. we have to do more education. i think the results for a women's college coalition talk about the major benefits. >> give me the pushback on this. you have been on multiple sides of this. >> one of the pushbacks for me, there are a number of them. one is, as the whole segment indicates, there are gender issues in schooling. i totally agree with that and think we need to explore those. i think part of what the single sex -- the way the single sex school debate functions is it says here is the answer. we never go on to say, well, what is going on and can we -- i think the single sex debate presumes you can separate what goes on in school from what goes
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on outside of school. so, i think exactly what julian was saying, the idea of being able to, you know, articulate ideas well, forcefully, challenge ideas et cetera. all those things are very important. but, they can be learned at the dinner table as well as they can in a classroom. >> the point you are making right now, there has to be one answer as if there's one question. it depends on what the question is. if we are talking achievement on tests, that's one question. how we think about single sex education might depend on what age we are talking about. i have a 6-year-old. my 6-year-old boy is different than the way my 6-year-old girls acted. maybe a boy will do better in a single sex classroom at a certain age. you are talking college and leadership potential, which is a different question. it seems we ought to be asking, you know, the answer for what
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question. >> i say two of the keywords you mentioned so far is single sex education provide choice and voice. is a single sex education required for every single girl to thrive in this world? no. should they not be afforded the opportunity? on the subject of voice, it's critical or girls learn there are ways to defie stereo types, expectations that our girls it doesn't matter how they look and do their hair but how they express themselves and do their homework and become activists in our society. >> i want to ask -- i want a ask a little bit about that. my daughter, we chose single sex ed for her. that's where she is now. she is now in middle school. the fact is, it's not as though it's all girls holding hands and clapping and singing in girl joy. not that there's -- sometimes it is odd.
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sometimes you take gender away as the primary dividing line other things come to the floor. there can still be bullying and ways of saying this is the person who is on the out and this is the person on the in. >> you can't remove every distraction a girl is going to face. we can remove one major distraction and provide a fertile ground for them to see themselves differently where the strongest mathematician in the school is a girl. the strongest athlete is a girl. there is no space for gender and equality in our school. >> we are going to stay on this topic. immaterial to bring in the point you brought in about colleges. women's colleges are in a different place. it worked for hillary clinton and for martha stewart. should more young women do it? hi, i'm phil mickelson. i've been fortunate to win on golf's biggest stages. but when joint pain and stiffness from psoriatic arthritis hit, even the smallest things became difficult.
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the case for single sex education for girls through 12th grade. what about beyond? there are 47 colleges and yurnts across the u.s. facing an unusual and troubling trend, declining enrollment. cart the statistics, enrollment stood at 85,769 in 2010. it's down from an estimated 113,000 in 1998. that's despite the examples set from the school's most impressive alum. graduates include former secretary of state, madeleine albright, hillary clinton and pamela melroy. writer and author anna quindlen and martha stewart. from spellman college, marian wrighted elman an advocate for the disadvantaged. can the case be made for all women in a college environment?
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you have been the president of such a school. >> one of the things people think is a single sex school is all women. we have some male professors. the tilt is female, but we have male professors. they are not sitting in a convent. you have other school that are close by. so, none of these children or young people are being koiserred. it's an important point to make. a lot of them think they are going to be. however, i think there are lots of benefits. there are some disadvantages. there are 4,000 plus colleges in the united states. 4,000. you have clernlg colleges for african-american. 45 women's colleges. you have one founded for jewish people, why not variety? i didn't go to a single sex school. a lot of women who are achievers didn't.
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some want to make that choice. they want to learn and be focused. they want to have the opportunity to learn without the distraction of young men in the room and they are being prepared to go into a world with all the tools that make them unintimidated by men. they have learned how to argument. >> if the data are, at best mixed, about k-12 and test score results. we feel all kind of ways about what it tells us. are the data mixed about the sort of leadership capacity potential around women's colleges? >> i'm much more familiar with the research around k-12 schools. i'm going to speak to those then see if we can extrapolate. one of the questions i want to kind of interject here is to what degree we can assume all single sex schools or programs are identical and have similar emphasis. for example, there was a study
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in the early 200s of 12 different single sex schools in california. they varied widely in terms of the curriculum, in terms of leadership, in terms so california made funds available. some programs were about getting extra funds. they had no leadership that wanted to push feminist knowledge or feminist awarenesses. >> the variables that make it that may be producing it -- along with a single sex ed, but not causal. >> it may be a selective factor. >> who opes into them. >> and who drops out and who is left. >> opting in, i did not opt in to a single sex environment. my parents are like there you go. i went kicking and screaming.
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i didn't realize the benefits of going to a single sex school. in college, i realized i had a certain confidence, i was the one with my hand up. i was the scholar going to my teacher to advocate for myself ensuing a sense of confidence. the way it happened was in my 7th through 12th education, teachers were looking out to an introverted 12-year-old for leadership skills. those are the sorts of opportunities and focus on individual identity that we can afford our girls. >> what nancy is saying is that doesn't necessarily follow from single sex education. i think about this from the standpoint i have a 13-year-old. we are considering where to send her to high school and one of the options is a single sex catholic high school. you know, what's interesting to me as i sit and listen to all of you speak is what i'm looking for is good schooling. >> right.
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>> good schooling is really the issue. you are talking teachers that draw you out. it's not obvious to me that one needs to be in a single sex environment for that to take place. >> varies for each individual. >> where are women going to be celebrated? women, my tag line is we are at a place where young women are educated, celebrated and developed into leaders and global thinkers, educated and celebrated. when you walk through a hauway, you see pictures of women. when you see leadership, it's women. >> does it let the coed schools off the hook? the one thing i wonder is if we do that, then, in fact, do general public schools not need to celebrate women's history month in march and not make sure that in fact, 50% of women, 50% of their leaders are women. you need a single sex ed it lets
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coed schools off the hook. >> it doesn't let them off the hook. so you really want to make sure that diversity is basically pushed and celebrated. 50% of law professors at yale, i don't know the numbers but i'm certain it's not 50%. >> i was the first african-american tenured professor at yale law school. >> i wonder if the other place -- you made the point about the dinner table. we made the point about girl scouts. say we go to coed schools or single ed school. >> within girls prep middle schools, in our elementary schools, we have underlying core values that can only happen in a uniquely single sex environment. including sisterhood.
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despite what you are seeing of women tearing each other down, they are building each other up. they are sisters. they are named after a strong female leader. >> opposite of the "real housewives." >> there are challenges of finding the needs of each individual scholar. i can speak from personal experience. the way my brother and i learned was different. also the way my sister and i learned were different. with the core values we try to view within the girls to reach the goals. >> we are in our last 30 seconds of the conversation. profess professor, there's something you wanted to do in the last 30 seconds. >> absolutely. on behalf of us, i have brought you something. >> great. >> it is our centennial celebration, 100 years of
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phenomenal women who war ched, not only marched down pennsylvania avenue, bull guarded their way in said we do marching, but we marched anyway. we are celebrating. and you are -- >> i greatly appreciate it. in fact, what i'm going to do as soon as we come back from the break is i'm going to talk about delta sigma theta sorority for those of you who may not know, it is our 100-year anniversary. it's our birthday today. and i actually think there's something in the conversation we've just had about women's leadership that i want to share about my sors when we come back. ♪ i'm living in a kind of daydream ♪ [ male announcer ] the more you lose, the more you lose because for every 2 pounds you lose through diet and exercise, alli can help you lose one more by blocking some of the fat you eat. let's fight fat with alli. ♪
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100 years ago today on january 13th, 1913, 22 young women at howard university established delta sigma theta
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sorority. the deltas were founded at a time when women did not have the right to vote, when african-americans were second-class citizens, and when black women were concentrated in the exploitive drudgery of domestic work. as college students these young women understood this their education meant they had relative privilege, and founding delta sigma theta was a response to that opportunity. a chance to nurture social bonds between one another and to serve their broader community. now, for those of you unfamiliar with the traditions of african-american greek letter organizations, i know it might seem odd to talk about a sorority centennial on a political show. but delta sigma theta is not exclusively or even primarily an organization for college women. delta, like other historically black sororities and fraternities of the national panaletic council has a history rooted in economic, social, political engagement. delta is the organization that first introduced me to the accomplishments of many black
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women in american politics. patricia roberts harris, the first african-american woman to be appointed to a presidential cabinet. shirley chisholm, the first african-american woman elected to the u.s. house and the first to run for president. barbara jordan, the first black woman elected to the u.s. house from the south. carol moseley braun, the only african-american woman u.s. senator. all women who chose to affiliate with delta. delta is the organization where i had my first opportunities to practice leadership. as an undergraduate chapter president i learned basic skills like robert's rules of order, honed more intangible abilities like forming consensus among extremely diverse points of view, and i had my share of good times at step shows. women take many paths to leadership. delta was the first one i followed. now, it is not a perfect organization. like many of our counterparts, deltas have been complicit in the excesses of college hazing and have sometimes squandered
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rather than mobilized our political and economic resources. but perfection is not the standard. commitment is. i make no claim that this organization is better than any other. but i believe the commitments of the more than 200,000 college and graduate members, of making our selves and our community and our nation better is a story worth noting. today is delta sigma theta's 100th birthday. happy birthday, sorors. that's our show for today. thank you to julianne malvo, to nancy, kaitlin, tracy, and thank you to you at home for watching. i'll see you again next saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern. i will be in washington, d.c. to cover the second inauguration of president barack obama. coming up, "weekend" with alex witt. plus presents the cold truth. i have a cold, and i took nyquil, but i'm still "stubbed" up. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't unstuff your nose. what? [ male announcer ] it doesn't have a decongestant. no way.
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Melissa Harris- Perry
MSNBC January 13, 2013 7:00am-9:00am PST

News/Business. Melissa Harris-Perry. Analysis and discussion surrounding political, cultural and community issues. New.

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